Saturday, May 28, 2011

Facilitating Online Reflections...

Another week, another reflection about online facilitating. This week, the questions I have to answer are the following:

How will you get feedback from participants?

When I teach I always ask my students to grade me, to evaluate my lessons. I always do orally as we are always running after time in secondary school. I know that for some people it does not seem very professional not to keep in paper track about what the kids think.
Asking them helps me planning ahead. For example, if the students tell me that an activity is rubbish I will not do it again. At the end of the day they are the clients in my shop, and if I want the clients to come back I should do what they want. I obviously cannot change the content but I can change the context or the delivery of what I teach.
In our online course this year, I have asked the students to give me feedback using a googleform. I ask them to fill it in Week 6 -we are now only Week four in our course, so I do not have the results yet. Most of them tell me while we are teaching if something is not right and at the end of each online session I ask all the participants to tell how it was, to grade the lesson and to tell me what they didn’t like.

How will you deal with criticism?

I have never had bad criticism from my students. I do not mean that they say that what I do is good, what I mean is that whatever they want to say they say it very nicely. So they might give me a 4/10 but they do it with a smile and give me a lot of encouragement.
I suppose if the participants give you constructive criticism it is always good to know how/where to progress. I like people criticising what I do because it helps me to get better.

How will you make sure people feel safe when they give you their feedback?

Using anonymous form is a good way for people to feel they can tell you what they really want.

How will you ensure you continue to improve your online facilitation skills?

By using the feedbacks received, carrying on reading (blogs, divers communities, twitter feeds etc...) and by attending other people’s online event, I will be sure improving my own skills.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Online Facilitating

It is time again for me to answer a few questions from Sarah Stewart for the Online Facilitating Course. This week the questions are:

How do I make my event as inclusive as possible?

I think I will prioritise the same things if I was facilitating a course for students than if I was for anybody else. I think that one of the most important thing is not to assume that everybody knows about technology. I would need to take time prior the first event to go through the technology with the participants, or even provide them with videos on how to use the technology. I should keep in mind at nobody knows all aspects of technology and I should never use sarcasm while interacting with participants. I myself have already experienced when participants within a community were very condescending when I asked questions, and it made me feel very bad. When I am in front of my class I try not to make my students feel awkward and I try to create a relaxed environment in which kids can ask any questions. I should create the same environment online.

There is also the idea that some participants do not come from the same background; same economical, geographical and cultural background. I will need to think at what time the event should take place in order to allow more people to participate. It seems to me it would be wiser to use sound only and no video as a lot of people still have dial up.

How will I market my event?

As I said in a previous post I would advertise in every community I am already a member of. e.g. twitter, blogs, facebook, nings

How will I engage "lurkers"?

The question is why some people are lurking?

Some people do not feel confident enough to participate either because of the technology itself or because of the content.
I should then provide a lot of technical support and I should direct the participants towards great readings.

How do I serve people with minimal Internet coverage or lack of hardware?

support and use of voice only as discussed above.

How do I manage financial costs?

I have never thought about that. It would depend who I work for I suppose...

First Adobe Connect Session

On Wednesday I have been given a grade by my Year 11 French for our first synchronous lesson using Adobe Connect. My grade was not very good but the kids were very encouraging. So here we are!!! they gave me a 4 out of 10.

To be honest I thought that 4 was very good as I would not have given myself a 4, I would have given me a 0 or a 1. So 4 is quite good, and as I see it next week I only can be better :-) In 6 weeks I will be a 10/10 !!!!

So what happened?

I set up my class in groups of 2 or 3. I know it would have been better teaching practice if I had asked the students to put themselves into groups instead of me being bossy and group them. Why have I been bossy? I was afraid that kids would go with their mates, I thought it was better to pair them up with someone who knew how to use a computer. Thus they could collaborate and help each other. None of the kids complained about me creating those groups anyway.

Then I left the kids with notebooks (with webcam and microphone) and the URL they needed to access the meeting. I went into a conference room while the students stayed into our French room. When I saw them entering the meeting room, I started to feel relieved. At least they could use the URL.

So we started the lesson. The students complained about the delay between my voice and what I was showing on my screen. I think (I am only assuming here!) that the speed of the school connection could have been responsible for the delay. They also complained about the echo with the microphones.
I was very proud that they took the initiative of splitting the class. Some stayed in the room, some went in the classroom next door, some in an empty office while others went outside sitting in front of the Wharenui. As soon as they all went their ways, the problem of the echoing was resolved :-)

Twice I have been disconnected and so wasted time reconnecting. Although I had planned a full hour lesson, we only managed to do ⅓ of it.

At the end of the lesson I felt quite embarrassed but the kids were smiling and they said that for our first lesson it was fine. One student even offered me to meet again during the week-end in order for me to practice more using Adobe connect. This was very touching :-)

RECAP: I was bad, but next time I will be better !!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wiki study

As I was writing earlier this week, collaboration goes a long way.

In my last post I had to answer a few questions about online facilitating for a course I am doing this year. As I was unable to find any ideas about one particular question, I asked on Twitter if someone could help him. Among several leads, Marielle Lange, @widged sent me a very interesting link to a Wiki study she did a few years ago.

Although it is a few years old, this study is well worth a read - as we know in technology age, each year equals 7 human years!!! Marielle pointed out to me that some of the hyperlinks could be broken.

Happy read !!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Facilitating online- New Week

The Easter holidays are well over and it is time for me now to go back thinking about communities for the Facilitating Online Course. This week I have some questions to answer

How do you collaborate online currently? What works well, and what does not work so well?

I think here it is not the point for me to repeat myself as earlier this week I have written a post about collaboration. Follow this link.

How will you facilitate online collaboration with people and organisations who are not used to this form of working?

I think if you want people to see a new way of working/thinking you need to take a soft approach. If you come on people a bit too strong they do not seem to respond well. I say this by thinking about teachers in the back of my head. I have noticed that although some teachers are willing to try new ways of teaching/learning some unfortunately are way too comfortable in their old ways and do not want to try new things. For those people I think a very very soft approach is necessary. You want to show them collaborating with others can be very easy and beneficial. They need to be shown that it is not extra work and that they will gain from this. It can be hard for people to change especially if they cannot see it could actually help them.
In a more practical way I think I would show people tools that are easy to use, free and flexible. Tutorials/videos are a good way to start as you can watch them when it suits you. I would start by little steps, taking them from email to Twitter for example, and wait that they are comfy until adding a new tool.

What are the issues you may face with online collaboration, especially in an open environment such as a blog and wiki?

As I have never faced any issues with blogs and wikis, I do not know what to answer to tis question !!!!

I will need help here to think about any issues :-(

Photo source:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Collaboation in education

Collaboration is key.

In any sector it is vital to collaborate in order to create work of a better quality. Who would not want to produce better work?

It is thus essential as educators that we show the right example, that we model good practice for our students to ameliorate their achievement and help them enter a world where collaboration is now common practice.

One of the tool I use for collaboration, among others, is Twitter, like a lot of teachers nowadays. I will not explain here how Twitter works as others have done it before me and have done it perfectly. I would like to point out here what was the process of collaboration I followed.

Let’s go back maybe 2 years ago. On Twitter I started to follow Marielle Lange, aka @widged, a francophone (someone who speaks French like me) Flex Developer who is extremely interested in education in general. We met once in true life :-) in Auckland during the Educamp2010 organised by Fiona grant. (wonderful event which will be held again this year again in Auckland, Wellington and Tauranga). During our non-virtual meeting, we shared our views on education and what we are capable of doing.

Here is I think an important step. Around a cup of coffee, or tea if you prefer, it is pivotal to discuss what each person is bringing to the collaboration. I am a teacher of French, so I know the students (or at least I think I know- another post needs to follow this one I reckon), what they want, how they learn and of course what they should learn (as in content- e.g. to prepare them for NCEA). As for Marielle, she brings in her knowledge of encoding (e.g. CSS, HTML etc…) which is a foreign language for me and she also brings an extensive understanding of how one learns and of education in general.

During numerous times, Marielle has helped me during the last two years, so many times that there is not enough space on the web to cite them all !!! But she has particularly helped me this year. Let me explain why and especially how.

I have always wanted to create an online course for a Year 11 French class. In this course I wanted the students to be able to find resources which could help them to gain good grades at NCEA independently and activities monitored, or not, by a teacher. This year I have decided to take the big step and put my fear aside and start the course.

Once again Marielle has been of a wonderful help. She has helped by creating activities well suited to the needs of my students. Marielle has kindly shared the codes in her wiki that teachers (or any educators) can reuse and use on their platform of choice. However, you need to keep in mind that her Wiki is only at a early stage and more activities will be added regularly. I have also chosen a Wikispace for platform and you can see Marielle’s activities in action within a language environment. The course I have created is far away to be finished and once again you need a bit of patience as I work full time, so I create the course at night :-) What is funny anyway is that our job as a teacher is never finished. Since the beginning of my career I have never known a moment where I could think “ah I have finished, my product is as good as it could be”. When one is a teacher there is always room for improvement.

So here you have it true collaboration in true context !